When England beat New Zealand earlier this week, Pakistan’s semi-final hopes were all but over. Even though they still have a mathematical chance of qualifying even their most optimistic supporter would not be betting on that happening. Pakistan though will keep hope and try to win this game as comfortably as they can to end a mixed campaign on a positive note. Pakistan’s failings have been similar to other teams who have not made it to the final four. Their final position in the points table might be flattering but their performance was nowhere near to what it should have been.
Their selection policies were muddled, their bowling and fielding in the first 5 games were mediocre and their batting was patchy throughout. Pakistan finally got their combination right against South Africa and managed to win three games in a row owing to their improved bowling performances. Shaheen Afridi who was discarded midway came back to make a difference to the bowling attack.
Mohammad Amir who has been brilliant through the tournament finally got the support he needed with the ball. The batting though except for Babar Azam and Haris Sohail has been disappointing. The openers haven’t scored many runs so have the experienced players in the XI. If they need to challenge a spirited and talented Bangladesh side, they would need to get their act together in the batting department.
Bangladesh though has played brilliantly in this tournament. They had some amazing individual performances in the form of Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman. Their bowling attack wasn’t suited for the conditions they were playing in but again they always fought in all their games and made it tough for the opponents. Shakib Al Hasan has been a revelation in this tournament for Bangladesh and he would hope to finish the tournament on a high for both himself and his team. Bangladesh is expected to make a couple of changes as both Mahmudullah and Mehidy Hasan are fit again to play but the rest of the team will remain the same.
Head to head:
Pakistan has been a dominant side against Bangladesh over the years and has a brilliant overall head to head record in ODIs. In the last 4 years though they have lost all 4 games they have played against the Tigers. They have lost the only game they have played against Bangladesh in the World Cup which was that famous 1999 game.
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh): Shakib Al Hasan has been arguably the man of the tournament in every sense when you look at what he has done. He has scored 542 runs and has taken 11 wickets to boot as well. He has been brilliant for Bangladesh and will be hoping for another stellar performance to finish the competition for Bangladesh. He will be crucial against Pakistan at number 3 considering the struggles of Bangladesh openers in this tournament.
Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh): Mustafizur finally looked in some sort of groove in the game against India where is bowled brilliantly to take 5/59. With the wickets slowing down his cutters and slower ones are effective again and he can be quite a handful on these wickets. He will be an important cog in Bangladesh bowling plans for today.
Haris Sohail (Pakistan): In a struggling batting line Haris Sohail came in like the breath of fresh air with his uninhibited stroke play against South Africa. It was surprising that Pakistan kept him out in the few games he was dropped. He along with Babar have been the best players for Pakistan in this tournament. He will once again be crucial for their chances in this tournament.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan): Mohammad Amir has the wickets for Pakistan in this tournament but one thing that was lacking in his stats was wickets with the new ball. Shaheen Afridi who has been Pakistan’s best ODI bowler since his debut was discarded prematurely at the start but when he came back he proved how good he was with a match-winning spell of 3/28. He has been brilliant at the start and once again will be crucial with the new ball.
What they said?
“Bangladesh versus Pakistan at Lord’s, the beautiful Lord’s, there’s no such thing as a dead rubber. Both teams are desperate to beat each other. We certainly are.” Said Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes dismissing any loss of intensity from his side.
“We’re interested in finishing on a high note. So we will try our best in tomorrow’s match.” Said Sarfaraz Ahmed, hoping for a strong end to a disappointing campaign
Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Mushrafe Mortaza, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman
Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz/Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Amir
This will be an interesting game as both teams would want to end the tournament on a positive note. Bangladesh hasn’t lost to Pakistan in over four years and is definitely looking like the team who are on the upward curve. Pakistan, on the other hand, has struggled and even though they came back in the latter half it was too little too late for Sarfaraz’s side. Even though Pakistan is the stronger side on paper, Bangladesh will start as the favorites in this game.